A passion for running and a common friend brought a pair of Platteville teachers together for an experience of a lifetime.
Platteville’s Dave Kies, 60, and Lancaster’s Yvette Marshall, 39, were among the more than 36,000 runners that took part in this year’s Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, just one year after the fatal bombing near the finish line of the 2013 race that took the lives of four spectators and injured dozens more.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was so loud for all 26.2 miles,” said Kies, who taught first and second grade at both Neal Wilkins and Westview Elementary in Platteville before he retired in 2008. “There were people along both sides of the road the entire race, bands, students, Elvis impersonators, drummers and just people playing music and having a good time. And the crowd was so inspiring, giving high fives and cheering us on. It was such a wonderful experience. Everyone was so friendly to us runners even afterward. They were so happy to have us there.”
More than 1 million spectators lined the Boston streets, including 10,000 volunteers, double the average crowd size of past races to support this year’s crop of runners that represented 50 different countries.
“When you are there and you’re running you can see just how important the race is to the city,” said Yvette Marshall, a K–1 special education teacher at Neal Wilkins. “The theme of this year’s race was to take back the finish line after what happened last year. It was so emotional for the runners, spectators and really everyone involved. It was amazing and special just to be a part of it. It’s something I will always remember.”
Marshall’s Boston experience took on added meaning when she crossed the finish line at 4:09:23, nearly the exact time the bomb went off at last year’s race (4:09.43).
“I looked at my Garmin and saw it was 4:09 as I was coming to the finish line and I knew that was the time of the bomb last year, so I was reflecting on that as I came in,” said Marshall. “After last year and the bombing, I think everyone realized the 2014 Boston Marathon was a race so unique. We were a part of something special.”
Marshall’s students back at Neil Wilkins were also able to watch their teacher cross the finish line online via their classroom smart board.
“When I got back to school Wednesday morning and walked in they all cheered like I had won the race,” explained Marshall. “I was thinking to myself I finished in the 19,000s, but they didn’t know the difference. It was pretty neat.”
Marshall’s official time of 4:09.23 was 19,927th overall and 4,213th in her age division.
Kies finished 16,438th overall and 308th in the men’s 60–64 age division with a time of 3:54:07 and qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon.
Boston was a bucket list accomplishment for both Kies and Marshall, but their journey to the most prestigious marathon in the world was quite different. In fact, the pair had never even met in person until they were in Boston for the race.
Through mutual friend Pam Pundsack, a teacher at Neal Wilkins, Kies and Marshall were introduced.
“I did an online search prior to the race to see if there were any other runners from Platteville, but I didn’t think about Lancaster,” said Kies referring to Marshall’s hometown.
“We exchanged a few emails in the week’s leading up to the race and then talked on the phone a week prior and we found out we were actually staying in the same Westin Hotel on Summer Street two miles from the finish line.
Kies was traveling with his wife Sherry, but Marshall was traveling alone, as her husband Tim and their three kids stayed behind in Wisconsin.
“It was nice to have people there as I was learning a new city,” said Marshall. “It was nice to have company.”
Boston was Kies’ third marathon. It was Marshall’s ninth.
Kies didn’t even start running until five years ago. He was not a track athlete or cross country participant in high school.
“After retiring from teaching I took a job at the county with the fuel assistance program,” said Kies. “I was always used to being so active with the kids at school and this was a desk job, and well I started putting on weight.”
With the encouragement of his brother Dick, Kies started running. He ran a 5K and a 10K and later a half marathon.
“At my first 5K I got third place in my age group and I was hooked,” said Kies.
He learned a lot about running from his brother, but also joined a Saturday morning running group that meets each week at 8 a.m. outside of the Williams Fieldhouse on the UW–Platteville campus. He also trained with Platteville High School cross country and track coach Rob Serres last summer on Monday nights working on speed interval training.
On Feb. 13, 2013 Kies ran his first marathon in Phoenix, Ariz. and ran a 3:27:40 to qualif for the Boston Marathon on his very first try.
“I didn’t really know what to expect as far as a time in my first marathon. I just wanted to finish it,” said Kies. “I had no idea. I really hit the wall at mile 20, so I felt very fortunate to be able to qualify for Boston in my first marathon.”
Kies ran his second marathon Nov. 10 in Madison.
While Marshall is a veteran marathoner and Ironman participant, Boston was the pinnacle of her career, as well as a triumph over adversity.
Marshall began running in 2008 after having the last of her third children at the age of 33. Like Kies, Marshall was also not an athlete in high school.
She began with 5Ks and half marathons, then a full marathon and eventually in September of 2012 completed the Madison Ironman triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon (26.2 miles) in succession.
Marshall qualified for the Boston Marathon at the Rails to Trails Marathon in Norwak (near Sparta) in November 2012 with a time of 3:27:13 nearly 13 minutes under the needed qualification time for her age group of 3:40:00.
“I wasn’t even trying to qualify for Boston at that race. I didn’t really train that much, I had a migraine and it was really windy,” explained Marshall. “I just plugged through it and as I kept going I realized if I could keep up my pace I could qualify for Boston. It was just one of those days.”
But her qualification date was too late for the 2013 Boston Marathon and she would have to wait nearly a year and a half.
In that time Marshall fractured her left femur twice during training, the second time this past January, just three months prior to the race. But Marshall did not five up on her dream.
“I was on crutches for almost a month. I couldn’t bike or do anything,” said Marshall of her second stress fracture. “But I wasn’t going to give up Boston.”
She biked and swam and lifted weights in an attempt to maintain her fitness level, but was only able to run six times prior to this year’s marathon — five miles, then 10, then 15, along with three shorter runs.
While Marshall did run he usual pace at Boston, her leg held up and she was happy to be a part of it.
“Honestly, I felt really good after the race and slightly relieved,” said Marshall. “I don’t know how many more marathons I have left in my legs, but I love running so I will keep doing as much as I can. I probably won’t run Boston again. It was kind of a one time thing, especially considering the circumstances this year.”
Kies echoes Marshall’s sentiment despite already having qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon.
“I’ll probably keep running marathons, but probably not Boston again,” said Kies. “It was fantastic, but that’s an experience that just can’t be duplicated. I’d like to move on and try new things.”
Kies was thankful of his wife Sherry’s support both in training at in Boston.
Marshall felt the same about her family even though they couldn’t be in Boston with her for the race.
“I just want to express my gratitude to my husband Tim and all my family,” said Marshall. “The time commitment to train for a marathon is tremendous and I couldn’t do it without Tim. His support is amazing. My whole family has been so involved in the process.”